Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day 9: Silence in the Library

I had high minded hopes to write something substantial today, tackling one of the topics that I had identified as aiming to address. But instead, I find myself at the end of the day, watching the light disappear with an empty mind.

I was working again in the library. Less productive, although I found some interesting books to look through, and drew up a reading list that might help me draw up some resources for 'critical thinking' in the future. At the moment, it's just a reading list I can disseminate to the students, but, because I know how much the idea of reading about study skills motivates students (I remember it well...), I'm intending to create some videos illustrating the content as much as I can (if they're any good, these may go up on iTunes U or something). Why not run a class? Just remember, that teaching time is at a premium 'in the current economic climate'. You only have so many classes (you only have so much time), so isn't it better to deal with this sort of thing as an online course? Probably more on this topic at a later date.

Why am I looking at critical thinking? Well it seems to be something that students struggle with (as I think I've mentioned at some point over the last week or so in this blog), and I want to give them the confidence to tackle it (and to understand what it means).

I actually think that this is a really good way to accomplish a quick literature review when it's attached to some teaching. I would normally take out a whole load of books, take them home, attempt to read one of them, and see where I went from there. This way, I grabbed three books, skimmed through them to get an idea of content, target audience, and style, made a few notes, and then returned them. When I have time to deal with this issue properly, I'll know where to go and what I'm looking at. At least that's the plan...

I didn't mean to even think about this today, but I was looking for a book on consciousness (trying to find out if I knew what it was - I'm serious about this by the way; it sounds like a joke but it isn't) to work out if I have a topic for this conference in April of next year. In many ways, it seems to touch on a number of areas that interest me, but I don't want to be in the deep end of the pool with my water wings on. Tomorrow, I'll be going to Edinburgh University Library with my Sconul email in my hand like the Oriflamme in order to look at the book which emerged from the previous conference on the same topic, just to confirm I know what I'm talking about.

I think I'll talk more about conferences and flexible research tomorrow, but today, I'll return us to the library.

So, I found the book I was looking for, but my eye was caught by other books on critical thinking. This is where the library is a bit like a Tar-Baby for me. As I've said before, I love books. I like being surrounded by them, and I love reading them. My natural inclination is to read everything that interests me, which, in a university library, is quite a lot. I returned a couple of books today, but walked away from the library with the same number of new books (including The Kristeva Reader).

Obviously, I have a problem.

What I have resolved to do though, to address at least my library problem, is to collect together all the books I have out at the moment, and categorise why I have them. I have books on loan for specific projects, to support specific teaching that I do, and for general reading (in the hopes of discovering new projects and new teaching) but I haven't quite worked out what I have, what I have them for, and when I intend to read them. Time to sort that out.

When that's done, I'll start on the academic books I have in the flat that I've been meaning to tackle for some time.

Supplemented with new books from the library, of course...

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